As I noted in my post on Ash Wednesday, I am sort of new to the whole, posting online regularly thing, on here and on twitter. I’ve really enjoyed this 100day challenge so far and look forward to completing it, though I do hope to eventually begin my posts earlier in the day so I’m not posting while exhausted (but then again, I’m probably less filtered when I’m exhausted, which could be a good thing).
Honestly, one of the reasons I got back to twitter at least, was because I was about to be going this Progressive Youth Ministry conference and wanted to connect with people. Understanding that apparently the old school models of face-to-face connecting aren’t so common anymore, I figured I’d make more connections by trying to tweet or at least follow the hashtag during the conference.
I experienced a myriad of emotions about this whole idea of “connection” through technology. I’d walk into the main room to look for a seat, and as a somewhat shy extrovert, I’d look for someone who I could sit down and chat with before the session started. But what I’d find is people glued to their phones or ipads (or, for people like me, since I’m anti-apple, kindle fires). I fell into this trap quickly as well, since I was unable to find a quick connection “in the flesh.” I’d have my kindle or phone out, and hope to connect with people on twitter. And I succeeded. I think my followers doubled and I found a lot of awesome people to connect with through twitter.
Yet, I found myself craving the personal conversation, the energy exchange between flesh that fuels passionate discourse and connection. I would sometimes seek out the people on twitter that I had “found” and introduce myself, and sometimes it worked out well to make the personal connection, while others seemed perfectly fine to keep their flesh to themselves (like I was some crazy stalker or something). Some would flat out not even talk back. (in the words of Bon Qui Qui, “roo.”)
So I struggle with this whole idea of connecting through technology. I crave intimate connections that are authentic, where people can share their passions, joys, struggles, and truly honor the other’s as well. We heard a lot at the conference about the value of one another’s experiences and developing authentic relationships, yet for many people (perhaps myself included) it seemed that the technological device was a barrier, a sign for others to keep away, some sort of brokenness to the connection.
I can’t even imagine being a speaker at a conference like that, where everyone is on their devices trying to tweet the next best phrase. Heads down, very little eye contact, and the occasional head bob. Even as I followed and tried to keep up with the twitter feed, I felt guilty for not engaging more with the speaker. Perhaps it’s just my inability to listen and tweet at the same time (I honestly think it’s a superpower). Even now, I feel like there are probably many things I missed, that if I wasn’t glued to twitter, I would have seen or heard things differently. Yet, then, I wouldn’t have made so many connections on twitter.
So, how do you connect with others through technology? How does technology limit your connecting with others? In what ways does God call us to connect with one another and how does technology play a role in that?